Friday, August 1, 2014

No Dog Parks For Puppies

No time to write this morning, so I borrowed a post that my daughter Jess made for a Dalmatian Group on Facebook.  Although I do run my dogs at a dog park, dog parks are not for every dog, and are certainly NOT for puppies.

Food for thought -

I would never take a puppy to a dog park.... Dog parks can be big scary places and puppies have enough trouble understanding dog language with one or two dogs, much less a bunch of dogs. And not all other dogs understand your dog's body language either.

Please do your puppy a favor and keep him out of the dog park for his safety, both physically and emotionally.

If you feel the need to introduce your dog to other dogs, sign up for an obedience class - much better experience and much safer and your puppy is learning things along the way. And for socializing - a walk on a 6 foot leash in neighborhoods or in town is a much better option..

And last but not least.... Not all dogs are dog park dogs. Many dogs don't want to "share" their space with other dogs - don't force them...

Off the soapbox

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are Dalmatians Laid Back?

This question certainly caught me by surprise last night as it's one thing I have NEVER been asked about Dals.  Max and I had just started off on our walk when we stopped to chat with a couple of neighbors down the block.  With Max practically vibrating in place in anticipation of his much-needed walk, the question struck me as funny, and I responded that although it varied a lot from dog to dog, Dals were generally lively and enthusiastic rather than laid back.  In retrospect, my neighbor probably thought it was more diplomatic to ask if they were laid back, rather than to ask if the breed was hyper like most people do.
I've had quite a few laid back Dalmatians over the years, including sweet old Watson who has always been very calm and mild mannered.  His niece Josie is also a very calm dog - except when her friend Sue comes to take her for a walk.  My Rob would have been considered laid back, and he produced a lot of puppies that were also very calm and easy going.  Dogs that made very easy-to-raise companions, and a personality type that is exceptionally nice for companion dogs.
Argus on the other hand has always been lively and enthusiastic.  He's been an excellent house dog, great in the car, perfect in motel rooms on dog show weekends, friendly with people, perfect with all other dogs, and is totally non-destructive, but he IS much livelier than Watson and Rob were.  He's very easily stimulated by the activities around him, which made him a good show dog, and a lot of fun.  Most of my dogs have tended to be more this way, and have been endlessly entertaining, but sometimes challenging.  Watson has always been just a bit "boring", but oh so easy to manage.
Max and Fern are both enthusiastic, high energy dogs.  They've always been that way. Max is an Argus son, Fern an Argus granddaughter.  Fern is very intense and determined, and very reactive to the things around her.  She was more work to raise and train, but turned out to be a very good companion, a good show dog, and an excellent house pet.  Max is just HAPPY, like Argus is happy.  Very enthusiastic like Fern, easily stimulated, but a bit softer and not quite so determined as either Argus or Fern.  I also raised Max with the realization that I'd be in my 70s when he was still in the prime of life, and I needed more control!   He's turning out exactly as I had hoped, and although he is still a work in progress, my efforts have paid off.  I'll continue to work with him, teach him tricks and obedience, take him swimming and for long walks, and see that he gets plenty of attention and exercise.  The investment in time is well worth it.
Several of the people on my puppy list have expressed an interest in having an easy going puppy from Fern's litter.  My educated guess is that most of Fern's pups will not be easy going.  She herself is not, and she was bred to a Coral grandson Duncan, who is a lively and enthusiastic dog himself, as were his parents.  Grandma Coral was extremely sweet tempered but incredibly happy, with a non-stop tail and a huge grin for everyone.
If Holly is bred to Ellsworth this winter, I may get some laid back puppies.  Holly is only moderate in activity level and Ellsworth is very mild-mannered.  BUT, so much of what a dog turns out to be depends on how he is raised.  Although a puppy's basic temperament is what he is born with, training can modify a lot of behaviors.  Raising a puppy correctly is a lot of work and a big responsibility, but a wonderful investment.  It takes a lot of time, patience, and a sense of humor, but the results are so worth it.  Some dogs require very little training to be good companions, while others require a great deal more.  It's always wise to assume your new pup will be the latter!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Count Down Begins

Fern enjoys sleeping on her back.
Although I palpated Fern on Day 25 and “knew” she was pregnant, it’s always a relief when it starts to show too.  My old vet taught me how to determine pregnancy (in dogs, just dogs!) many years ago, and so far I’ve always been correct.  Although our girls normally ARE pregnant when I palpate, we’ve had a few misses over the years, and I called those correctly too.  With a perfect record at stake, I get a bit nervous each time I do it, and of course a pregnant bitch can re-absorb per puppies too (dogs rarely miscarry, they just reabsorb).  And considering all the time, money and effort that goes into doing a litter, a “miss” is such a disappointment.
Gemma was palpated on Day 25 and was obviously pregnant.  I tried Fern on Day 24 and couldn’t be sure, but on Day 25 she felt pregnant – though not as “full” as Gemma felt.  Although both girls were bred the same day, Gemma down in Kansas City and Fern to a dog in Minneapolis that I co-bred, we’re guessing that Gemma will come a day or two sooner as she probably ovulated a day or two before Fern did.  Because we did progesterone testing, we knew the approximate days they ovulated, and knew that the eggs had to ripen from 48 to 72 hours before they could be fertilized.  We shall see how this all plays out!  Fern finally LOOKED pregnant on Day 35.  Whew.
Many breeders use ultrasound to determine pregnancy, but I’m not real keen on taking dogs to the Vet clinic for something unnecessary.  Why take a chance on exposing them to something? They either are or are not pregnant, and it’s too late to do anything about it, so why spend the money?  The numbers from ultra sounds are never correct anyway.  When I palpate I don’t attempt to count, I just want a Yay or a Nay on pregnancy.  Once I know they are pregnant, I can start the necessary preparations.  (Tomorrow's topic perhaps.)
Gemma lives with Heather, and my daughter Jess & I are her co-owners.  Jess will be raising the litter and the pups belong to Jess and Heather (unless I steal one!).  Fern is my dog, but Jess will sign on as a “lessee” so she will be a co-breeder on Fern’s litter.  The advantage of that is we will both be able to show Fern’s pups in Bred By Exhibitor Class, as long as we are both co-owners as well.  I plan to keep one if the right pup is in this litter, but if not I can wait.   I have a frozen semen breeding planned for Fern next year (if she is a good mother and has quality pups this time) and would really like a pup from THAT litter if it works out.
The co-ownership option worked nicely on Holly’s litter two years ago.  Jana, Jess and I co-bred the litter.  I kept Max, and Mellie went to Jana, but the three of us stayed on as co-owners.  I put the first 10 points on Max, but it was working to Fern’s disadvantage for me to show both dogs in Bred By Exhibitor Classes.  If I won with Max, it made it less likely I would win with Fern (depends on the judge of course) and I would have to hand her off at ringside while I was showing Max rather than giving her my full attention at ringside.  We decided to try Jess on Max, since she still co-owned him and could therefore show him in the class.  It worked nicely.  Fern showed better when I could concentrate on her, and finished quickly and with a nice record.   Jess finished Max with several nice wins – and they both finished from Bred By.